MLS Awards

MLS MVP down to five finalists

Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images

Major League Soccer released its five finalists for the Landon Donovan MLS MVP Award, headlined by a pair of former Manchester United teammates.

LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic and DC United attacker Wayne Rooney are up for the award, along with LAFC’s Carlos Vela and Atlanta United teammates Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez.

Ibrahimovic might be considered the favorite had LA not failed to make the playoffs, while Atlanta may be hampered by having two players up for the honor. Vela has been outstanding on expansion LAFC despite inconsistency in his supporting cast.

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Rooney would win MVP despite playing in less than 54 percent of the season’s minutes.

Ibrahimovic, Vela, and Almiron are ranked 1-2-3 in performance scored by advanced stats site WhoScored. Rooney is 10th, and Martinez 11th.

Coincidentally, that’s close to how the voting should finish (although Rooney has been a revelation, Martinez broke the goal record so let’s at least flip those two).

This is one of those times that the MLS Most Valuable Player being named after Landon Donovan may not be ideal.

Especially if Zlatan wins the award. Imagine the speech: “Today, this is award is now the Zlatan Ibrahimovic Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player Award, sponsored by Zlatan.

Diego Valeri named 2017 MLS MVP

Pete Christopher//The Oregonian via AP

It’s no shock, but Diego Valeri is the 2017 Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player.

The Portland Timbers man carried the Cascadian club on his back, scoring 21 times with 11 assists. That includes an MLS record nine-match scoring streak.

Valeri won more than 50 percent of the vote, with runner-up David Villa the only other player getting double digits (16.40).

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Three Toronto FC players split 10 percent of the vote (Sebastian Giovinco, Michael Bradley, Victor Vazquez). The Top Eight was rounded out by Atlanta United pair Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez, and Chicago striker Nemanja Nikolic.

He’s Portland’s first MLS MVP.

  • 2017: Diego Valeri – Portland Timbers
  • 2016: David Villa – New York City FC
  • 2015: Sebastian Giovinco – Toronto FC
  • 2014: Robbie Keane – LA Galaxy
  • 2013: Mike Magee – Chicago Fire
  • 2012: Chris Wondolowski – San Jose Earthquakes
  • 2011: Dwayne De Rosario – D.C. United
  • 2010: David Ferreira – FC Dallas
  • 2009: Landon Donovan – LA Galaxy
  • 2008: Guillermo Barros Schelotto – Columbus Crew
  • 2007: Luciano Emilio – D.C. United
  • 2006: Christian Gomez – D.C. United
  • 2005: Taylor Twellman – New England Revolution
  • 2004: Amado Guevara – MetroStars
  • 2003: Preki – Kansas City Wizards
  • 2002: Carlos Ruiz – LA Galaxy
  • 2001: Alex Pineda Chacon – Miami Fusion
  • 2000: Tony Meola – Kansas City Wizards
  • 1999: Jason Kreis – Dallas Burn
  • 1998: Marco Etcheverry – D.C. United
  • 1997: Preki – Kansas City Wizards
  • 1996: Carlos Valderrama – Tampa Bay Mutiny

Dempsey wins Comeback award; Set for Seattle stay

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Clint Dempsey edged Federico Higuain and Erick Torres for the 2017 MLS Comeback Player of the Year Award.

The voting was surprisingly close considering Dempsey’s status as an American soccer icon returning from a scary heart problem.

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The 34-year-old has 14 goals between the MLS regular season and playoffs, adding four assists in 30 total matches. Seattle plays Houston in the Western Conference final of the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Dempsey is the second Sounder to win the award, joining Eddie Johnson who won the honor in 2012. Coincidentally, Johnson retired from soccer due to a heart ailment.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, Dempsey is set to sign a one-year deal to stay with Seattle as a Designated Player through the 2018 season.

With Dempsey set to break the all-time USMNT record with his next goal, it’s no surprise he’s not hanging up his boots yet. And why would he? “Deuce” remains an effective player for club and country.

Ike Opara named 2017 MLS Defender of the Year

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

They like Ike.

They being the voters, as Sporting KC defender Ike Opara has been named 2017 MLS Defender of the Year.

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Opara, 28, has been rumored for a USMNT call-up this January after averaging 2.3 interceptions, 1.7 tackles, and a sixth-best .9 offsides drawn per game in MLS this season. He also pitched in three goals for KC.

The Wake Forest product played his first three MLS seasons with San Jose before a 2012 trade to KC.

Opara is the first SKC defender to claim the honor since Matt Besler in 2012, and joins Jimmy Conrad and current boss Peter Vermes as KC players to claim the honor.

Winning 28 percent of the vote, Opara beat out Justin Morrow, Kendall Waston, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Besler, and Jovein Jones.

Atlanta United’s Gressel wins MLS Rookie of the Year Award

AP Photo/Danny Karnik

It was a formality once PST crowned him, but now MLS has joined our esteemed staff in naming Atlanta United’s Julian Gressel as its 2017 MLS Rookie of the Year.

The German-born Gressel is the seventh-straight MLS Rookie of the Year to come from the American collegiate system, joining Jordan Morris, Cyle Larin, Tesho Akindele, Dillow Powers, Austin Berry, and CJ Sapong.

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Andy Najar is the last non-collegiate ROY, winning the award after heading from DC United’s Academy directly into the First Team.

The 23-year-old Gressel came to Atlanta via the SuperDraft after a college career at Providence. The right-sided man had five goals and nine assists as a rookie, adding another goal in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Gressel received better than 53 percent of the vote, 37 points better than second-place finisher Abu Danladi of Minnesota United. Jack Elliott of Philadelphia was third, followed by San Jose’s Nick Lima.